On June 16, the Verkhovnaya Rada called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to invalidate the act of 1686 according to which the Kiev metropolitan was allegedly "in violation of canons" attached to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Alexey Svetozarsky tells Interfax-Religion about the prospects of such initiative and how it is better to consider the forum on Crete after four local Orthodox Churches (Russian, Georgian, Bulgarian and Antioch) refused to participate in it.
- Would you comment the initiative of the Verkhovnaya Rada deputies?
- As I understand the Rada in its statements wants the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is in unity with the Russian Orthodox Church, in Eucharist communication, but not in administrative, having the widest authorities, the widest independence, receives autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew. It is absolute nonsense, absurd from the point of teaching about the Church, canons, on which relations among the Churches and relations inside any Church are based on.
The Constantinople Patriarchate does not have any right for granting autocephaly, if it is not the matter of a part of the Constantinople Church, which has made a decision basing on canonical rules and asks to give it a status of autocephaly, an entirely self-ruled Church.
It is not clear why Constantinople should interfere in it. And it is not clear why the Rada deputies make decisions about church order though we do not know if they are believers or not. The Rada is a state body and Ukraine always declares full freedom of confession, and state does not interfere in church affairs.
It is evident political interference and a political project that will crush, though there may be people who will be attracted by it. We shall hope that the Constantinople Patriarchate will be reasonable despite the situation with the Pan-Orthodox Council, it will have enough common sense, Christian tolerance and persistence in canonical rules in order not to allow the thing that can turn into tragedy for many Orthodox believers in Ukraine.
It is can be said that this project is absolutely political and make us remember the same processes not only in the USSR, but also in Europe in the 20s-30s, when various stage structures, states actively tried to format the Churches necessary for them. Certainly, it cannot be carried out as they persistent Orthodox believers in Ukraine who will stay in frames of the canonical Church and unite around their primate - Metropolitan Onufry, who more than once called such attempts a political project that has nothing to do with church life.
- It is evident that this deputies initiative is connected with the Crete forum. Is it possible to call it the Pan-Orthodox Council?
- The Pan-Orthodox Council has failed. It is a conference of bishops, perhaps of the highest rank. However, we know that according to the Orthodox tradition, primates are the first among the equal.
t barges into the Constantinople idea that appeared quite late, in the 19th century, about the Ecumenical (Constantinople - IF) Patriarch, who has right for a certain part of Orthodox world as he is empowered by his see and his title.
Here, we have another position. And it is one of the reasons for which this conference can not take place. We see the life of the Orthodox Church as a fraternal unity of separate local Orthodox Churches, which should settle problematic questions jointly, not dictated by a certain "Eastern pope," very small pope, caricatured in a certain sense, even though in a high rank. Ambitions do not correspond to the real state of things.
- Are the documents accepted on Crete obligatory to observe for those who did not attend it?
- We had such an interesting experience in 1948 when a consultation of heads and primates of Orthodox Churches was held in Moscow. Stalin thought it would be a Pan-Orthodox Council, but Greek patriarchs, including the Constantinople Patriarch, did not take part in jt. Important documents were adopted at the session, but as Greek Churches in fact boycotted it, they do not consider these decisions obligatory for them. Here is the same thing.
The Crete forum should not have been called a council from the very start. The agenda is miserable as it does not include truly actual problems accumulated in the Orthodox world: it includes some general words and in prospect a desire to spread some ambitions favoring from the political situation in the world.
- Many experts point out to the influence of western elites on the Constantinople patriarch, his inspiration by the West in connection with the discussion around the Crete forum. What do you think about this aspect?
- The Constantinople Patriarchate focuses on Anglo-Saxons, on evident, inexplicable for an Orthodox person, attraction by Rome. Anyone can search in Internet browser "Patriarch Bartholomew," he jumps out of the frock as he wants to serve with the Pope of Rome. They read Gospels together, the Creed. They only don't commune together with the pope. It is absolutely inexplicable moment. The Constantinople patriarch was the first person who congratulated the pope during enthronement at St. Peter's Square. I don't think we should pay much attention to it, but we either can't leave it without consideration.